[A]t restaurants across the land, men will whip rings out of their pockets and try to find some vaguely original way of asking the woman across the table if she would like to spend the rest of their lives together raising children, choosing furniture and arguing about just how clean the bathroom vanity needs to be kept. At many other tables, women will be hoping for a proposal that doesn’t come. If you are in that second group, I have some hard news for you: It’s probably time to leave.
I say probably because if you are 24 years old or have been dating for less than a year, then it’s a little too early to be seriously worried about where this relationship is going. And if you don’t want to get married, then hey, don’t! Breathe a sigh of relief that he didn’t propose, grab a snack and settle down for the latest issue of “The Americans.”
Those aren’t the folks I’m talking to. I’m talking to you, 30-something woman who has been dating the same guy for a couple of years (or more), maybe already moved in together and started picking out that furniture. The one who is ready for those babies, or at least a joint tax return, and would like to get the matter settled as soon as possible. The one who is anxious that her partner doesn’t seem as eager as she is but is afraid to deliver an ultimatum for fear the answer will be “OK, bye.”